June 26, 2020
Tanzania Safari Animals and Where to Find Them

One of the most iconic African safari destinations, Tanzania is a wildlife haven and a great country to see a dazzling array of animals and birds. From the great wildebeest migration and the snow-clad mountain of Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro Crater’s ‘Garden of Eden’, there so much for visitors to experience in Tanzania. If you are planning a Tanzania safari tour and are thinking of the animals you want to see, here is a list of the most popular Tanzania safari animals together with some of the best places to see them.

Tanzania Safari Animals And Where To Find Them

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Tanzania Safari Animals

The Big Five

From the largest land mammal on earth and the king of the jungle to the elusive leopard, temperamental cape buffalo and endangered rhino, if you wish to see the renowned ‘big five’ African safari animals, then a visit to Tanzania is a must. These animals found in Tanzania are common sights in most national parks and reserves, especially elephants and lions. The chances of encountering rhinos and leopards are lower as they are solitary animals while maintaining a safe distance from the cape buffalo is important as they are volatile creatures.

Best places to see the Big Five in Tanzania

  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Serengeti National Park
  • Selous Game Reserve


Wildebeest

Wildebeest

About the Wildebeest

The wildebeest is a large antelope with box-like head and curving horns and is one of the most populous Tanzania animals. They are one of the main attractions of a Tanzania safari and due to their abundance they are easy to spot. Also known as the gnu, wildebeest prefer woodland floodplains, open grasslands, and dense bush lands. They are grazers and while they are a social animal, they can also be territorial.

What’s more, wildebeests are a part of the largest land mammal migration on earth, where more than 2 million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya in search of greener pastures and water. Read here to find out more.

Best places to see Wildebeest in Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park


Burchell’s Zebra

Burchell's Zebra

About the Burchell’s Zebra

Another Tanzania safari animal that can be found abundantly in many national parks and reserves, these single-hoofed animals are herbivorous and prefer grasslands and savannas. Zebras are native to Africa and a part of the animal entourage that makes up the Serengeti-Maasai Mara migration. The white coats of zebras are marked with black or dark brown stripes. What’s interesting to note is that each zebra’s stripes are unique, like a fingerprint, which help them camouflage in herds. Scientists also believe that the stripes help to ward off biting flies.

Zebras are social animals and females live in small harems attached to larger herds. Three species of zebras can be found in Africa; the plains/Burchell’s zebra, the mountain zebra, and the Grévy’s zebra. Only the Burchell’s zebra is found in Tanzania. The mountain zebra and the Grévy’s zebra are both on the endangered species list.

Best places to see Zebra in Tanzania

  • Katavi National Park
  • Serengeti National Park
  • Mikumi National Park
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Tarangire National Park


Roan Antelope

Roan Antelope

Sable Antelope

Sable Antelope

About Roan and Sable Antelope

The roan antelope is one of the largest African antelopes that inhabits lightly wooded savanna and tall grass. It sports a reddish-brown coat with black and white facial markings and has pointed ears with long horns that curve backwards. The sable antelope, on the other hand, has a glossy black coat with white markings on their face and belly and ringed horns which curve backwards.

Both these antelopes are powerfully built and given their aggressive temperament they  are known to use their great scimitar-shaped horns to kills predators including lions, leopards and spotted hyenas. They live in a herd of 15 to 20 individuals. Both antelopes are grazers of medium length grasses. Also, while roan antelopes are most active in the morning, sable antelopes are diurnal as well as nocturnal.

Best places to see Roan and Sable Antelope in Tanzania

  • Katavi National Park
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Selous Game Reserve


Cheetah

Cheetah

About the Cheetah

The fastest animal on earth is a sight to behold on a wildlife safari, especially if you can see them during a hunt. The East African cheetah is an endemic species that can be seen in the Serengeti National Park and the Maasai Mara National Reserve. They have the palest of coats that range from white-yellowish to tan with spots all over, except their bellies (which are white). Another distinguishing factor is the dark tear marks that run from the corner of their eyes to the edges of their mouth.

Their habitats include savannas, open fields, scrub forests, and grasslands. Cheetahs are a shy animal like leopards and their primary prey includes Thomson and Grant’s gazelles. Males, however  do prey on larger animals like impalas and wildebeests by forming a coalition with other male cheetahs. Tanzanian cheetahs are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and are threatened by hunters, habitat loss and cub mortality.

Best places to see Cheetah in Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Katavi National Park


Nile Crocodile

Nile Crocodile

About the Nile Crocodile

While on a safari trip, the Nile crocodile is another member of  Tanzania wildlife that you ought to see. One of the most feared predators in the African animal kingdom, Nile crocodiles can weigh upwards of  450 kgs  and can reach up to 4 meters  in length.  This apex predator is   a massive and deadly reptile, known for its voracious appetite! Their habitat includes rivers,  large freshwater lakes, dams close to rivers, freshwater swamps, coastal estuaries and mangrove swamps.

Having the ability to eat up to half of its body weight in one feeding, the Nile croc will attack and eat almost anything that strays too close. Their bite is 8 times more powerful than that of a great white shark and they are also man-eaters. Once it lays eggs, the Nile crocodile will guard its nest fiercely until the eggs are hatched. Primarily hunted for their skin, their numbers were severely depleted in the ’50s and the ’60s. Since then their population has greatly increased.

Best places to see Crocodile in Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Lake Manyara
  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Grumeti River


Leopard Tortoise

Leopard Tortoise

About the Leopard Tortoise

The leopard tortoise is the largest species of tortoise found in eastern and southern Africa and can weigh up to 13kgs. It is one of the most  common wildlife animals in Tanzania. This tortoise species favour grasslands, semi-arid, savannas and thorny habitats and their diet includes mixed grasses.

Their high domed shell provides protection from predators and  the sun, which allows them to be active throughout the day. Their well-developed front and rear legs enable them to move faster and easier, even over rocky terrain. They are also able to climb, float and swim. Leopard tortoises can live for a very long time, up to 100 years.

Best places to see Leopard Tortoise in Tanzania

  •  All parks in Tanzania


African Wild Dog

African Wild Dog

About the African Wild Dog

The African wild dog is one of the most endangered animals in Tanzania. They can be found roaming in sparse Miombo woodlands and open plains and are highly skilled predators, hunting animals like impala and young wildebeest. They live and hunt in highly social packs controlled by an ‘Alpha’ mating pair. African wild dogs are most active during the day time. Wild dogs need lots of space so places like the large Selous game reserve are perfect for them. Given their depleted numbers and their huge home ranges, spotting one on a safari trip is rare, though not impossible.

Best places to see African Wild Dog in Tanzania

  • Selous Game Reserve
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Serengeti National Park


Giraffe

Giraffe

About the Giraffe

The Masai Giraffe is only one species of giraffe found in Tanzania (apart from an exclusive heard of Rothschild giraffe at Giraffe manor). It also happens to be the national animal of Tanzania. A giraffes coat is distinguished by jagged spots that extend down the legs to the hooves. Its habitat includes open grasslands, scrublands, and woodlands, where they primarily feed on leaves, stems, fruits, and flowers. Their population has undergone a decline mostly due to illegal hunting & poaching, habitat loss, and diseases, which makes it one of the other most endangered animals in Tanzania.

Best places to see Giraffe in Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park
  • Selous Game Reserve
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Lake Manyara


Spotted Hyenas

Spotted Hyenas

About Spotted Hyenas

Famously known for their distinctive laugh, spotted hyenas are an intelligent and accomplished predator that can be seen in most African habitats. There are three species of hyenas; spotted, brown, and striped. Spotted hyenas have excellent night vision & good hearing and can run for miles without tiring. They largely live in groups called ‘clans’ which are led by a dominant female. These predators are mostly nocturnal and while they are scavengers, they are also skilled hunters who hunt in packs. They have the strongest of jaws which enables them to bite right through the bones of their prey.

Best places to see Spotted Hyenas in Tanzania

  • Ngorongoro Crater
  • Serengeti National Park
  • Selous Game Reserve
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Lake Manyara
  • Tarangire National Park


African Rock Python

African Rock Python

About African Rock Python

One of the most thrilling animal sightings on a safari, the rock python is the largest serpent in Africa. They can grow to around  3.5m long and weigh in at 50kgs. The African rock python is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and inhabit forest, savanna, grassland, semidesert and rocky areas . They are  non-venomous and kill by constriction and coiling around its prey. They feed on any warm-blooded animal/bird and can swallow them whole (even a crocodile!) These reptiles are solitary creatures and seek out their own kind only during the breeding season. They mostly spend their time on the ground but if threatened they can climb trees.

Best places to see African Rock Python in Tanzania

  •  All parks in Tanzania


Monkeys, Oli
ve Baboons, Chimpanzees

Oilve Baboons

About Monkeys, Olive Baboons, Chimpanzees

Primates are another of  Tanzania animals that you are likely to spot during your safari adventure. From monkeys to olive baboons and chimpanzees, Tanzania is the most primate-diverse country in Africa with some species that can be found nowhere else on the earth. There are two species of baboons found in Tanzania – the olive and yellow baboons. Baboons are a very social animal that live in large rowdy groups. They are omnivores, meaning they will eat pretty much anything: grasses, roots, seeds, leaves, fruits, insects, fish, shellfish, rodents, birds, vervet monkeys, and small antelopes.

For close sightings of chimps, you need to head to the remote forest of Mahale Mountains National Park, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, which is home to the largest population of chimpanzees in Africa. Chimpanzees are the closest human relative and highly intelligent species. They can live in a wide variety of habitats and their diet includes fruits, seeds, nuts, insects and sometimes they even hunt small mammals. The other monkeys that you can see in Tanzania include red colobus monkeys, blue monkeys, red-tailed monkeys, etc.

Best places to see Monkeys, Olive Baboon, Chimpanzees in Tanzania

  • Mahale National Park
  • Serengeti National Park
  • Tarangire National Park
  • Selous Game Reserve
  • Ruaha National Parl
  • Lake Manyara


Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus

About the Hippopotamus

Hippos are another wildlife safari animal found in the east African countries. The third-largest land mammal, after elephants and rhinos, hippos spend up to 16 hours/day in waterholes and rivers and are very territorial in the water. At dusk they emerge to graze under starlight and do so alone. They are not territorial whilst out of water.

To protect them from the sun, their skin is coated with an oily red substance which gave rise to the myth that they sweat blood. Hippos are aggressive, temperamental and unpredictable, which makes them Africa’s most dangerous animal. Despite their enormous size (1400kgs) they are quite fast when on land and can gallop at up to 30km/per hour when heading back to the safety on the water.

Best places to see Hippopotamus in Tanzania

  • All parks with water – Serengeti National Park
  • Lake Manyara
  • Katavi National Park
  • Selous Game Reserve
  • Ruaha National Park


Greater and Lesser Kudu

Greater and Lesser Kudu

About the Greater and Lesser Kudu

Tanzania wildlife also includes the greater and lesser kudu. These gentle and elegant antelope are a shy animal. They prefer woodlands and bushlands which helps them to avoid predators. Their diet includes shrubs, leaves, shoots, foliage and fruits. The difference between the greater and lesser kudu is in their weight and horns. The greater kudu has large & spectacular horns while the lesser kudu has small horns and is about one-third of the greater kudu size. These mythical looking creatures have a ‘near threatened conservation status’ as they are mostly hunted for their horns and meat.

Best places to see the Greater and Lesser Kudu in Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park,
  • Tarangire National Park,
  • lake Manyara,
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Selous Game Reserve


Thomson’s Gazelle

Thomson’s Gazelle

About the Thomson’s Gazelle

Thomson’s gazelles are medium-sized antelopes that are commonly seen in east  Africa. They have light-brown coats with dark stripes and a white belly with a white rump patch that extends up to the tail. They also have striking ridged horns that curve backward. They prefer open plains and their habitats include savannas and grasslands. They are herbivorous animals and their diet includes shoots, leaves, and grasses. These nimble animals have a strong sense of smell & sight and have a good hearing which helps protect them from predators while they roam around the open plains.

Best places to see Thomson’s Gazelle in Tanzania

  • Serengeti National Park

About author

MD and Co-Founder. Born in Zimbabwe, Robin has a long history in Africa, and safaris in general, from running lodges to marketing. He is always on the look out for new ideas and products from around the safari world.

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